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Murder Workers …Channel 4

16 May

The only thing in common with all these stories on this thoughtful documentary was that they had lost a loved one in a murder. The hurt, the questions, the grief and the emptiness are all unique to each family. A burden each parent, sibling, child and relative had to deal with in their own way

I lost my dad when I was a teenager in a not unsimilar circumstance and I remember the immediate aftermath, dreams that he had travelled and come back and all was well but waking up every morning to the same gut wrenching void, so I have a lot of empathy for the families shown.

The loss you feel can be almost overwhelming, but real life does not stop out of sympathy and neither do the sad but inevitable consequences of the loss, like funerals or trials go away. In to this emotional whirlpool step in the workers of Victim’s Support National Homicide Team.

The gentle way they talked the little girl through the family album and watched her as she blots out the face of her ‘dad’ who had murdered her mother. The biker who had lost his son, said he was coping but when he talked about the son it was obvious he was welling up inside. The family watching the moment their dying son is dragged out of a club by the bouncers accused of killing him. The family who’s son is murdered and find the law sadly doesn’t alway dispense justice. The son who watched as his dad stabbed his mother to death and finds his dad is still his legal guardian.

In the face of this overwhelming grief the ‘Murder Workers’ offered a shoulder to cry on, an ear to share your grief and guiding hand to help you pull through

From the Channel 4 Website

The Murder Workers is a powerful and insightful Cutting Edge documentary exploring a side of murder that most people know very little about. It follows members of Victim Support’s National Homicide team as they work closely with families who have been bereaved by murder or manslaughter.

The Murder Workers offer practical and emotional support for families at different stages of bereavement from the initial shock right up until the steps needed to start re-building their lives again. The families are often thrown into a world of police investigations forced to navigate the deeply confusing world of the criminal system and it is the Murder Worker’s responsibility to guide them through this difficult time.

When others don’t know what to say or how they can help, it’s Murder Workers Dave, Alli and Carol who step in to help with funeral arrangements, apply for compensation, seek specialist help, close down bank accounts, cancel booked holidays or be there when their homes are turned into crime scenes; but most importantly, they are a shoulder to cry on. They are there to fight the family’s corner and whether its humour or a hug that’s required, they know the right thing to say – they have an extraordinary capacity to go into the unknown and alleviate some of the stress put on the families.

The Murder Workers also goes into the lives and homes of those recently bereaved to learn about the impact of homicide. Marie is an extraordinary woman with an inner fight and superior strength preparing to come face-to-face with the men accused of killing her son Lee. Elsewhere, Jackie who was getting ready for her retirement now has her hands and house full of young children. Her three grandchildren, aged five, eight and thirteen years old moved in with her after their father killed their mother, who was Jackie’s daughter. She is now battling to become the children’s legal guardian.

The Victim Support Website : www.victimsupport.org

America’s Poor Kids…BBC2

6 Mar

Often when you think of poor children you often think of the grinding poverty you see in the third world or of images from the great depression. Poverty so visual it is difficult to be anything but that, but in thinking that way may mean you could easily miss the extent to which poverty still exists in the first world.

America’s Poor kids on BBC2 attempted to strip back the veneer of first world prosperity and to reveal a different world, a world of need, deprivation and depression through the eyes of the children trapped in situation not of their making

There was Kaylie in Iowa bouncing from a house her family could not afford to a motel, and back again to  another house they could barely afford. Jonny stuck with his family in a Salvation Army shelter with ever constant threat of write-up’s  constantly hanging over them. Write-ups given for infractions for any one of the myriad of shelter’s rules, go across a certain number and you’re evicted. Then there is little Sera stuck in a shelter in Tenderloin San Francisco, Tenderloin it turns out is anything but tender.

The story’s were all told by kids who were all remarkably articulate. They came across as  coping as best as they can in a situation not of their making but in their interviews you could see some traces of resentment in what they perceive as their parents failure, certainly in the case of Kaylie and Sera. Both were in single parent household and touched upon their Moms not having made the right choices.

The real emotionally gripping aspect was when the children talked about the future, they still had dreams but the experience and the reality of the life they had lived had begun to encroach into those dreams.

They talked about breaking the cycle of poverty they find themselves in, of getting an education and getting jobs but they also talked about what happens to people who don’t escape poverty. It was in that you got the feeling they could see one possible and arguably an increasingly probable vision of their own future, a future slowly being shaped by their being  trapped in a vortex of dwindling choices on education, housing and healthcare that poverty in America brings.

 

The Secret of Pickpockets….Channel 4

26 Feb

Okay it is official I am not going to use a cash point in London any more!!!. Last night’s documentary on Channel 4 -The secret of Pickpockets –  was shocking.

Not so much the Eastern European gangs targeting drunken revellers, they were brazen and the victim’s unfortunate, but it is arguably an avoidable situation. Or even the pocket or hand bag “dip” on the underground, more worrying but it is always on the back of my mind when I enter a crowded tube.

No, what really shocked me was the ATM scams. The barely noticeable card skimming devices  and cameras that thieves fit to the ATM machines allowing them to steal details of tens if not hundreds of bank cards. Digital age pickpocketing, that scared me.

The skimming device looked just like a normal ATM card slot where you would insert your credit  or debit card, and the mini cameras were equally imperceptible to the untrained eye.  Really Scary stuff. I am not sure how widespread this practice is, but I will be making a note to use ATM inside banks as often as is practicable.

On a lighter side was the travails of one Constatine Radu. The 6ft-something pickpocket from Romania has almost certainly been put out of business by the programme, caught twice on by the Police owing in no small measure because his physique means he has no chance of blending into the crowd, a key ability of a successful pickpocket.

I doubt if anyone who watched it will forget his very distinctive face, described by the one of the police officers as something you find at the end of a witch doctors stick.

Hopefully after his 22 weeks prison sentence he look for a change in profession or at least seek pastures far from the UK for his nefarious activities.

Her Majesty’s Prison: Aylesbury….A documentary too far?(ITV)

25 Feb

This was quite a revealing in-depth documentary about Prisoners in HMP Aylesbury. What really caught my attention was the case of a young lad Ryan Buckley.

I didn’t catch what offence he had committed but his storyline was pretty harrowing and my first thoughts were how come these scenes were being shown on TV. Ryan clearly had serious psychological issues. We were shown scenes of him self harming and worse his body being taken down after an attempted suicide.

As a prisoner Ryan rightly has many rights taken away but does that include the right to decide if his struggles in prison is allowed to be used for our “edutainment“? He may have willingly agreed to take part in the programme but  is he really in a state to give informed consent.

I can imagine if he has people outside that care for him watching his unconscious body being cut down from a noose where he tried to hang himself must be heart breaking.

Prisons are for punishment and where possible rehabilitation. “Edutainment” which I am sure is what it is being sold as, is not within the  remit of the Prison Service and programmes like this take us down a road we may not want to travel on.

CH4…The Hotel. Is all publicity good publicity?

17 Feb

The documentary The Hotel intrigues me. The fly on the wall documentary centres around the trials and triumphs of the the three star Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay. The seaside hotel is run by the “star” of the show – Mark Jenkins.

For a long time I could not figure out if this was a real hotel, some sort of mockumentary like “This is Spinal Tap“, or some really out there documentary where you are left scratching you head as to whether it is real, like the BBC documentary “The Armstrongs“.

Week after week we are treated to hysterics, complaints, fallouts,  clashes of ego and footage of a hotel that looks like it is in desperate need of a lot of TLC. To use a pun, The Grosvenor was not only washing its dirty linen in public but had called in the cameras.

Now the show is in its third series so there isn’t the excuse that they don’t know what they let themselves in for, or they have been conned by the TV production company. So why carry on with doing the documentary?

Earlier this year we were treated to a programme in a similar vein, featuring Claridges Hotel London. This  was in comparison, a tightly controlled and polished PR exercise setting out to achieve just one thing and that was to strengthen Claridges’ brand in the mind of its existing or prospective customers.

I personally think the Grosvenor hotel management have figured out how much the British public have fallen in love the cult of celebrity.  They have realised irrespective of their failing, being featured week after week on TV will bring in a lot of clientelle desperate for a brush with fame however tenuous it might be.

The reviews on Trip Advisor the travel review site reinforce this where almost every review posted about the hotel mentions the fact that it was featured on TV.

From one happy visitor..

after seeing the tv show on channel 4 i immediately made it my mission to spend a week in this hotel. 3 months later my husband and I were on our merry way. the journey there was not fuelled by petrol but my anticiption and excitement and im very happy to say i was not disappointed.
on arrival, Mark gave me and my husband a great big hug and offered to carry in my pet cat, fluffy, who was very tired from the journey.
all the facilities in the hotel were brilliant including the new full size snooker table the newly installed jacuzzi is very relaxing.
however it was the professionalism and sheer class of the owner Mark that my stay will best remembered. my husband had ran out of socks by the last day so mark kindly took his off and gave them to my husband to wear. that sums mark up. a pure class act.
i will definetely be back and i think next time i will bring my single friend who has a little crush on mark.
if anyone is thinking about whether to stay here, i would urge them to book up now. it is a must. thank you mark. you are a legend

and another…

Stayed here just because it was on the TV and the other half loves the show. Wouldn’t normally go to a budget seaside resort, so wasn’t sure what to expect!

Got over the initial surprise as to how dated and basic the rooms were by reminding ourselves that it was only £60 for the night! However, the lack of a shower in the room was a step too far in terms of basic… However, staff dealt with it excellently and we were moved to a much nicer room complete with shower within 15 minutes.

Breakfast existed, which is all that can be said, but again it’s a budget hotel and so wasn’t expecting rosette standard food!

All in all we had fun, staff were friendly and the hotel itself, whilst basic, wasnt offensive! I imagine the hotel has more character than the thousands of others in Torquay!

For others the brush with celebrity was not enough to cover up the deficiencies of the hotel.

What a shocker. I was expecting Basil Faulty to turn up. Bland indescribable food. Basic dated rooms and common areas. No professionalism from Managers/reception head. Just like it is on TV – terrible. Don’t waste your money

Overall though it looks like the opportunity for a fleeting dalliance with fame coupled with a hotel that offers value for money trumps any defects the Grosvenor might have. So is all publicity good publicity? On this evidence I think that might be a Yes!

BBC4….The World’s Richest Songs

29 Dec

One of the biggest gripes with the talents unearthed by shows such as the X-Factor, American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent etc is that the nature of these programmes start artistes on the wrong path. Spending their most creative early years singing covers of other people’s songs, or songs created by their labels in-house team of writers. Why is it the wrong path you might ask?

Well it is the wrong path because all the hard work from gigging, touring and personal appearances will simply be lining other people’s pockets as this informative BBC4 documentary – Richest Songs in the World – showed. The beneficiary’s of this wealth? The Song writers and owners of the copyright to the song.

Fronted by BBC DJ Mark Radcliffe who also doubles as one half of the comedy rock group The Shirehorses, the show revealed the top ten highest grossing songs ever and it was a very interesting list.

We are given tidbits of where the money comes from 7-8p a CD, 4p for a downloaded tune and usage of music on the BBC for instance can attract about £16 a minute. Then there are films, adverts, Karaoke machines, shopping centres and more.

So who is in the list?

10. Mel Torme – Christmas Song. (1944) [Listen]
The tenth spot was held by the Christmas Song written by Mel Torme and it was made famous by the great Nat King Cole. The song introduced two theme’s that ran throughout the list.

First was that a Christmas hit doesn’t just sell well, it sells spectacularly well! The other  was that for incongruous reasons song writers of Jewish origin were masters at producing Christmas hits.

Estimated Earnings – £12.5 million.

9. Roy Orbison & Bill Dees – Oh Pretty Woman. (1964) [Listen]
Roy Orbison and Bill Dees were apparently struggling for song writing ideas when Roy’s wife walks in on them and announced she was going shopping and thus the opening lines “Pretty Woman walking down the street” were born. The rest of the song followed, and so did a no 1 hit in the USA and UK and elsewhere.

The Richard Gere / Julia Roberts film Pretty Woman brought a substantial boost to the song’s earning potential, as well as introducing it to a whole new generation, so much so that in late 1998 Bill Dees was reportedly earning $100,000 a year.

In the USA the song was the subject of a legal case that established the doctrine of parody. When rap artist Luke Campbell and his 2 Live Crew sampled the song into a somewhat salacious version the copyright owners objected.

The US supreme court ruled the version  was a parody and exempt from royalty payments establishing a legal precedent that exists in the US till today. It may have made a small dent in revenues but not enough to stop the song from being a money spinner.

Estimated Earnings – £13 million

8. Sting – Every Breath You Take. (1983) [Listen]
This is the UK’s first entry in the list. It’s the 80′s super group, The Police, greatest ever song contributing a quarter of the revenue that their entire catalogue ever made. This song throws up another theme that crops in discussions about song revenue, who actually owns the rights. This song is credited to Sting (Gordon Sumner) but in the interview for this programme Andy Summers recounted how he had provided the guitar riff for the song.

So successful was the song that it grosses about $2000 a day. A lot of that is due to P Diddy’s incredibly successful sample of the song in memory of the late rapper Notorious BIG. Ironically the main part that was sampled was Summer’s iconic guitar riff.

Estimated Earnings – £13.5 million

7. Haven Gillespie & Fred J Coots – Santa Claus is coming to town. (1934) [Listen]
So popular has this song been that is covered pretty much anyone who’s anyone from the soulful rendition by the Jackson 5 to hard rocking version by Alice Cooper, and there is even a version by Justin Bieber.

Estimated Earnings – £16.5 million

6. Ben E King, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller – Stand By Me. (1961) [Listen]
I personally have believed the best music comes out of time of uncertainty. In particular the sixties and early seventies a period of profound political and social change brought us some of the best music that has ever been produced. Ben E King’s anthemic song is a worthy representative of this era.

Ben brought the song initially to Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller who were working out of the famous Brill Building in New York. They added to it’s composition and also agreed to a royalty split of 25% to Leiber and Stoller and 50% to Ben E King, an unusually amicable agreement in an industry where back stabbing over royalties is a way of life.

Stand By me was successful in its own right but the River Phoenix film of the same name amongst other reuses of the song have seen its commercial success soar

Estimated Earnings – £17.5 million

5. Alex North & Hy Zaret – Unchained Melody. (1955) [Listen]
Written for a prison movie ‘Unchained’ in the 50′s it was originally about about a prisoner yearning for freedom. The song was made famous by two guys with most perfectly sculptured chins in show business The righteous Brothers and in the UK by two less sculptured British blokes Robson and Jerome. In between the song has been covered at least an amazing 650 times.

Estimated Earnings – £18 million

4. John Lennon and Paul McCartney – Yesterday. (1965) [Listen]
Back to Blighty for number 4. Yesterday was said to have been specifically written by Paul McCarthy but given the arrangements that existed within the Beatles it is credited to Lennon and McCartney.

When the song was originally written the final lyrics had not been worked out so Paul McCartney used in its place were an homage to scrambled eggs until he came with the now famous lyrics. Despite it seeming simplicity the song is the most successful of the Beatles’s compositions.

Estimated Earnings – £19.5 million

3.Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Specter – You lost that loving feeling. (1964) [Listen]
Written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil a legendary Husband and Wife song writing team working out of the famous Brill Building music factory. They worked with Phil Specter on this song and when interviewed on the programme stated he famously added the line “and he is gone, gone, gone, Whoa, whoa, whoa”, much to Mann and Weil’s skepticism . The addition along with Phil Spectre’s wall of sound production worked and helped make the song the most played on radio ever.

Memorably in the UK the song release pitted a very young Cilla Black against the great chins from America – The Righteous brothers in a battle for No 1 both with the same song. Cilla eventually lost  out to the tighter more sophisticated production on the American version. Must have been a ‘surprise, surprise’ for her. [Sorry!]

Estimated Earnings – £20.5 million

2.Irving Berlin – White Christmas. (1940) [Listen]
“I am dreaming of a white Christmas”. This song bundles up all your nostalgic memories of Christmas into soft heavily sentimental wrapping, the ultimate Christmas Song. It was Irving Berlin’s masterpiece and in the hands of all American crooner Bing Crosby it sold an amazing sold 40 million copies and has since gone one to sell over 100 million units netting the man who started as a poor jewish immigrant from Russia a fortune.

Interesting Irving Berlin was a leading light in the creation of The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) the body that first adopted a unified approach for the collection of song royalties and arguably laid the foundation for the fortune of many others on the list.

Estimated Earnings – £24 million

So what’s number one? I heard about this before but was never sure if it was an urban myth or not, well it’s been confirmed.

1.Hill Sisters – Happy Birthday. (1893) [Listen]
No not the Stevie Wonder one. The one you sing at home when it is a birthday, yes that one. You might think of it a ditty, a rhyme, a kids song, but if it is musical and can been copyrighted it will generate royalties. When you consider that every one of the 6 billion people on earth has a birthday you can begin to see the earning potential.

Kindergarten teachers Patty and Mildred Hill created it as a song for their kids with the words originally ‘Good Morning to You’ along the way it morphed to Happy Birthday and into an incredibly popular song. So much so that Warner Brothers bought the rights to the song for 25 million dollars. Happy Birthday reportedly costs 25,000 dollars for use in a TV or Movie and despite its age remains under copyright in the USA till 2030. In the EU the copyright ends in 2016.

Estimated Earnings – £30 million

All in all a great programme and given all the music clips of theses songs and their various cover versions it definitely added a few more pennies to the earnings.

BBC2…How many people does it take to choose an Alarm Clock at Claridge’s?

10 Dec
English: Claridges Hotel This luxury 5-star ho...

Claridges Hotel  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BBC2 took us on a trip into one of the last bastions of British Gentility as it once would have been. The Claridge’s Hotel in London. To call Claridge’s well-appointed is to understate its poshness. It is like a shop with no price tags, a club with comfortable well-preserved Chesterfield chairs, a church with wedding banns from the 1700′s.

I often find with these things it is the scale, or sometimes the detail of what goes behind the scenes that is impressive. With Claridge’s I was impressed the longevity of service of the staff, the fact that the hotel had their own tailors making made to measure uniforms for staff, and the scale of their laundry operation. Not sexy but very impressive.

In times where so much is outsourced and contracted out, retaining full ownership of the what makes you unique may not be the most profitable way to run a business but it almost certainly ensures that you can maintain the quality you are renowned for, and maybe also allow you to get away with charging £6,900 per night for your most expensive room. A move that is not going to make you popular on TripAdvisor.

The eye watering charges notwithstanding, it does come across as a great hotel, an institution that has stood the test of time.

We saw a sample of the guests attracted by its opulence, The Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, the actress Joan Collins and an East End Bookie made good, old money, celebrity and a geezer with lots of cash. I suspect in the old days the cockney geezer may have had a somewhat harder time getting the welcome he gets now.

Like the Hotel itself the programme was gently reassuring. The Manager Thomas, with his clipped  German accent, exuded an aura of Teutonic efficiency but still showed a clear appreciation of the importance of tradition.

If I had the cash to blow, I think a few nights at Claridge’s would definitely be on my list.

And Oh the answer to the question is 4. That’s how many members of staff it takes to choose an Alarm clock at Claridge’s.

ITV’s Sports Life Stories…Fabrice Muamba’s miracle

5 Dec
Fabrice Muamba, then on loan to Birmingham Cit...

Fabrice Muamba (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t really remember the last time I watched ITV4, it is possible I have never actually watched it. I can’t even think of a single programme normally broadcast on the channel, or at least I couldn’t till today.

While skimming the channels I came across their Sports Life Stories and today’s was on Fabrice Muamba.  Fabrice Muamba was not a widely celebrated footballer, if you weren’t into the football the chances are that before the 17th of March,2012 you would never had heard of him.

The tragic events of that day changed all that. On that day Fabrice Muamba slumped on a football pitch at White Hart Lane,  North East London in front of a crowd of tens of thousands and for all intents and purposes was medically dead for 78 minutes. That he survived was incredible, that he seems to have suffered no lasting brain damage is a miracle.

Sports Life stories followed his life up to to that pivotal point as well as the immediate aftermath.

We learnt about his early life in Lubumbashi and later Kinshasha both in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We learn how his father left for England on the back of political upheaval in his home country leaving behind his wife and children. We learn how Fabrice eventually joined his Father in this new country only to find out his Dad had a completely new family as well.

His love for football and maths,  his struggle to learn English and his determination to play for Arsenal, his love for his now wife, Shauna, and his son.  How he downloaded the national anthem from the Internet to learn by heart when he was called up to play for England’s U-16 team. These all provided the backdrop to that eventful day in March this year.

It was the quater-finals of the FA Cup played between Tottenham Hotspurs and Bolton Wanderers at Tottenham’s home ground.  41 minutes into the match with almost no one around him Muamba collapsed and  within seconds it became clear this was not just a muscle sprain or cramp it was something much more serious.

I remember the day as I caught the incident on one of the rolling news channel and even from my home the atmosphere was palpable. No one can be really sure how Fabrice Muamba survived, but the combined effort of the Tottenham Hotspurs team doctor Shabaaz Mughal, the Bolton Team Doctor Jonathan Tobin and a Cardiologist from Lodon Chest Hospital Andrew Deaner who happened to be in the crowd and all the other medical staff contributed greatly.

From the moment he collapsed and went on life support  the nation and the football world held its breathe. It was not till to 2 days later that the first signs of a miracle began to emerge. Dr Dearner recalls how after Fabrice began to show signs of consciousness he visited him held his hand and asked him “Whats your name?” “Fabrice muamba” he replied,  ”I heard you’re a good footballer” his reply “I try”.  At that point the hope of a full recovery became reality.

He indeed went on to make a full recovery and we see two more poignant points in his life.

His return to White Hart Lane, to the spot where he “died” and was given a second chance.  As the crowd cheered  Fabrice struggled and failed to hold back the tears.

We also see as he makes an honest woman of Shauna, who had stood steadfastly with him over those trying periods.

It was a beautifully produced documentary and reminder how we should make the most of the life we live.

BBC…I don’t enjoy paying my TV Licence but sometimes…

22 Nov
English: This image of a document is from &quo...

Jim Jones :  Credit  ”the Jonestown Institute” at San Diego State University. 

…BBC shows a gem and we would be much the poorer without it.

Two nights ago I stumbled upon a repeated edition of Storyville on BBC2. There are certain things the BBC does better than anyone else in the world, not just in Britain, not just Europe, not just in the West, not just in the Northern hemisphere, but the whole wide world, these are nature programmes and factual documentaries.

They do a lot of other good things but on these two they are beyond compare.

Storyville is a excellent example of  the world class factual documentary shown by the beeb. Storyville rarely gets any publicity, is often shoved into late night time slots, but the gradual way the documentaries in this series dissemble and present even the most complex subject matters is second to none.

On Tuesday we were taken back to the swinging sixties and psychedelic seventies. To a time when civil rights was just making a break through in the USA and we met a charismatic preacher Jim Jones.  In ”Jonestown: The World’s Biggest Mass Suicide”, we are taken through Jim Jones life from his early days as a preacher, through his rise a powerful local politician in San Franciso and finally to a commune in the South American country of Guyana.

It was here in Guyana that events unfolded which shocked the world. The documentary carefully charted the events that led to 909 people committing mass suicide far from home in a sweltering jungle. We meet the survivors and witnesses to events that led to this, talking poignantly of their experiences at the camp and the loss of those they knew.

The closing segment with short shots of the those contributing survivors as they contemplated their memories was particularly powerful. Very powerful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Channel 4…Dispatches. Getting Rich on the NHS

29 Oct

Has the NHS been privatised? No one told me!! You read a lot about NHS reforms but I personally haven’t equated reforms with widespread privatisation. If what I saw on this programme is reflective of the NHS as a whole then NHS privatisation is starting to happen in a big way, and I guess largely under the radar of most people in the country.

It seems one of the main ways in for private money is buying up self managing GP groups. Once they’re in the pressure to slash costs starts and that means removing permanent staff and replacing them with locum doctors, reducing staffing hours and referring patients to alternative sites. Primary care is an expensive operation and to accommodate the need to make a profit it is inevitable that the quality of patient care begins to deteriorate as the visits to various parts of the country by the programme showed.

One of the main beneficiaries of the unraveling of a totally state-run NHS is Virgin Care, yet another branded operation from the great bearded one. The programme showed how Virgin Care is spreading its tentacles across the NHS having won over 750 million pounds of contracts, but questions were raised about some contracts they have won.

In Surrey they won a Community Nursing contract worth millions despite not being the lowest bid. In Swindon they submitted the lowest bid but questions were raised about the service they intend to supply, ironically not dissimilar to the Virgin Rail’s complaint when they lost the West Coast mainline train franchise.

For me the issue was less a case of who is winning what in the tendering, but the rate and breadth of this privatisation exercise and the implications of this for patients

It would appear the ideological mantra that “socialised medicine”, as the Americans like to call it, being some sort of evil is stealthily making a way into the UK and we are not really being given a chance to say yes or no.

It is not just big faceless conglomerates enjoying the ‘rewards’ of privatisation, your friendly local GP may also be getting in on the act, as the creeping privatisation is opening opportunities for them to make mega bucks despite increasingly glaring conflicts of interest and there is a danger they will make decisions based less on your clinical needs and more on their pockets.